Framing for Learning: Lessons in Successful Technology Implementation

Fundamentals of Organization Development

Amy Edmondson

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  • The decision to bring a new, innovative technology into a complex organization is only the first step in an implementation journey. Many new technologies disrupt existing organizational routines and relationships, requiring potential users to re-learn how to work together – a challenge that usually proves more difficult than anticipated. As a result, a technology implementation process can unfold in many ways, determined less by features of the technology itself than by a complex interaction between the technology and the adopting organization. Those participating in an implementation effort may have considerable leeway in how to interpret the technology’s benefits and challenges, and so the same technology can be seen differently and can elicit different responses, even in organizations that may appear quite similar.1 These responses matter. Research on technology implementation shows that some organizations ultimately reject the same innovations that other organizations successfully implement.2 Factors found to promote implementation success include top management support, slack resources, and prior experience with innovation.3 Other research has emphasized the ways relationships and work routines are disrupted by a new technology.4 What is clear from prior research is that technology implementation is difficult – and especially difficult when an innovation challenges existing patterns of interdependence among individuals or groups.

    Framing for Learning: Lessons in Successful Technology Implementation’, AmyC.Edmondson, California Management Review, 45 (2) (2003): 34–54. Copyright © 2003, by The Regents of the University of California. Reprinted from the California Management Review, by permission of The regents.

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